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The Maritime Liaison Office in Bahrain has set up a Coalition Maritime hot line to receive reports of suspicious activity at sea, particularly in the Persian Gulf.

Mariners can report suspicious activity to the U.S.-led coalition forces in the area by telephone or online, according to message posted on the office’s Web site. The information will be passed on to forces headed by the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.

Staffers accept information in Arabic, Farsi, English, Hindi and Urdu. Reports may be made anonymously.

The hot line’s telephone number is 00973-1781-2952. Its Web site for online reports is www.marlobahrain.org/report.htm.

The office, commonly called MARLO, reports that “acts of piracy are increasing at an alarming rate off the eastern coast of Somalia,” with 15 violent incidents since March. In all of 2004, there were two reported attacks.

In addition, between July 2004 and December 2004, there were 70 reported criminal attacks on merchantmen, primarily small boats, in and around Iraqi territorial waters. While the number of attacks decreased during the first six months of this year, the area of attacks widened.

The office was established in 1987 during the Iran-Iraq “Tanker Wars” in which the U.S. Navy provided protection to petroleum vessels, cargo vessels and the commercial maritime community that were being attacked in the Persian Gulf.

Bahrain is home to the 5th Fleet, which oversees U.S. and coalition warships and submarines in the Middle East region.

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